Winton celebrates 50th birthday today
Winton Motor Racing is celebrating its 50th birthday today.
Known as ‘Australia’s action track,’ Winton is one of this country’s longest-standing permanent race tracks.
Located just outside of Benalla,Victoria, the 3.0km circuit remains at the forefront of regular motor racing fans thanks to the track’s ongoing place on the V8 Supercars calendar.
However, as more hardened race fans will know, the track is used for more than just one three day V8 meeting each year, serving as an all round racing, driver training and car club venue.
The Winton track, founded and managed by the Benalla Auto Club, hosted its first race meeting on this day in 1961.
The original circuit was 2.03km in length before a 1km extension in 1997.
Today, in mixed conditions, the Ford Performance Car Club is enjoying use of the track.
Tonight, a group of around 100 people, including Benalla’s mayor, will celebrate the track’s landmark birthday with a function, hosted by Australian motor racing media identity Paul Marinelli.
Winton Motor Raceway’s managing director Mick Ronke grew up at the track and has seen it through good and bad times.
“I grew up with the track. My father was part of the car club that built the track,” Ronke told Speedcafe.com.
“I can remember coming around to the site as a kid, running around on the dirt before the bitumen was laid.
“The track survives with a lot of hard work. Three years after it started it almost went bankrupt. We got our heads together and fixed it. I started working for the club when I was 18, and it has been a lot of handwork ever since.
“What does the next 50 years hold? It should be more of the same, but unfortunately, the traditional form of motor racing seems to be drying up, so we’re going to have to start to do new things.”
The 2012 V8 Supercars Championship event at Winton will be held on August 24-26.
Speedcafe.com and its platinum partners wish Winton Motor Raceway a happy 50th birthday.